Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Camera Obscura.

(Two blogs ago, I started to relate how I am the worst model in the world. Mercifully, this is the last entry)

The photographer put the camera to his eye and brought it down again.

“Try slouching.”

Another thing you don’t know about me. I don’t slouch. Or, rather, I don’t slouch in that sexy “Been everywhere, done everyone and couldn’t be bothered to be confined by the bourgeois constraints of good posture” kind of slouch. When I slouch, I hunch. Less Lou Reed, more Richard Nixon. I tried hunching in an appealing way.

“Lean forward. Hand on your knee. Now, lean into it, elbow on your knee, and straighten out the other leg a bit. Stare down the camera.”

I chanted to myself, I’m hip, I’m urban, I’m challenging the viewer to a knife fight. I’m doing all this wearing a cashmere sweater with little rhinestone buttons.

Straight outta Darien.

I imagine the combination of my hunching, squinting and wincing caused the photographer to give up on this particular pose. He had me stand upright again. He peered at me. He looked from me to the hair and make-up woman.

“Can you do something about her hair? I mean, can you give it some…movement?”

Oh, sweet crud, my hair. I had been so entranced with the sensation of a jumbo bar of Crisco on my face and my utter lack of correct pants that I had briefly forgotten that my hair is straight and as fine as a child’s hair. The hairdresser tip-toed onto the seamless and poked at the sides a bit, trying to get them to defy gravity; this attention made my hair feel shy and caused it to try to hide behind my ears. She took the opportunity to reapply lipgloss; I was now creating enough glare to qualify as light pollution.

The photographer said to his assistant, “Get the fan.”

A medium-sized fan was lugged into place and directed towards me. The fan was turned on to “Gale-force wind”; my hair responded with movement more in the keeping with “Hamster sneezed nearby”.

The photographer had an inspiration. “You were an actress, right?”

Well, I can argue what child actors do isn’t exactly acting as much as mimicry, but I doubted we were having a philosophical discussion here.

“Yes, I was.”

“So, I could give you adjectives and you could act them out.”

It will tell you how bad things had gotten that both the photographer and I beamed as if he had invented cold fusion using nothing but a stale scone. I could…act! And he could take pictures! And I would stop looking awkward and miserable! Unless, of course, he told me to look awkward and miserable! Because I could…act!


“Okay, look surprised!”

I dropped my mouth open, and I raised my eyebrows which, thanks to Botox, is something very few women in Los Angeles over thirty can do. He snapped a picture. I held the expression and the voice in my head said calmly, “You know you look like a complete lunatic, right? Your mouth is ajar; your eyes are wide and expressionless. You’re wearing cashmere with tennis shoes. All you need is for a fly to get stuck to your lips and die and this should provide a nice rebuke to anyone who reads this article and thinks you’re sane.”

Clearly, “Quinn as malleable acting clay” wasn’t pleasing the photographer any more than it was pleasing the voice in my head, because he didn’t ask for another emotion. Instead, he changed cameras.

While things were getting set up, the photographer and I started talking. As it turned out, he grew up out here, as did I. As it turned out, when he heard where I went to high school, he asked about the one friend I had in high school I hadn’t thought about in twenty years. I lit up with joy. We shared a few stories about this person. He snapped some pictures. I finally felt as if maybe, possibly, this might not be the most misbegotten photography session in the history of the world.

“Great!” he enthused, “Do that spontaneous thing again!”

Here’s a new fact about me; when something is going really badly, my brain will fixate on something outside itself upon which to go into lockdown. It is truly like the computer screen which is my brain freezes, and only a major reboot will allow me to move ahead. “Reboot”, of course, meaning “Gin and tonic”. My brain heard the photographer and leapt upon what he said with glee:

I can either do a spontaneous thing, or I can do a thing again, but if you do a spontaneous thing again, then it’s no longer spontaneous. It’s like saying “I plan to be impetuous tomorrow”, which is something, I will admit, I have thought on occasion, but the fact remains, I cannot do a spontaneous thing for a second time.

I came back to Planet Photography. A few second had passed while I went into my linguistic reverie, during which time I had done nothing but stare off into space. The photographer was patiently waiting for me to do the spontaneous thing again.

“I’m sorry,” I said finally, in a very small voice, “I can’t do the spontaneous thing again. I have no idea what I did.”

“That’s okay,” he said in a bright tone which leads me to believe Los Angeles Magazine pays extremely well, “we’ll just go back to giving you instructions.”

“Chin up.”

“Not that far up. Back down.”

“Too far down.”

“Shoulders to the light, eyes towards me.”

“Lift your eyelids.”

“Too far.”

“Drop your shoulder.”

“The other one.”

“Too far.”

A few more adjustments more suited to a yoga class and he put down his camera.

“I think we got it.”

Fearful of moving my shoulders, eyelids or chin, I said “Really?”

“Yeah,” he said, sounding surprised, “at least one”.

Keep in mind, we shot for an hour. Five rolls of film, and we might have gotten one picture.

So, here is what we know:

It takes four different eyeshadow colors to make my eyes look as if they have no make-up on.

I am an archetype.

My hair doesn’t lift for anyone.

Los Angeles Magazine likes head-to-toe shots for their archetypes.

Here is what we do not know:

What this picture is going to look like.

Here is what I will be doing the day after Thanksgiving:

Running to a magazine stand.

Wish me luck.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

' “Great!” he enthused, “Do that spontaneous thing again!” '

Classic! =D

6:35 PM  
Blogger Sara with NO H said...

I think this is an awesome blog. I was linked here from another blog, and I'm engrossed. I'll have to catch up on a lot of reading and archives.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh yeah...i'll be running along side of you.

hell - if you COULD do the spontaneous thing again, where would the fun be in that?

8:27 PM  
Blogger hedosean said...

How in the world do I get Los Angeles Magazine on the day after Thanksgiving In Burlington Kentucky? I am NOT a magazine person mind you but I have been dying to find out what the QC in QCreport looks like now since I found your blog months ago Quinn.


6:17 AM  
Blogger OHN said...

Hi Quinn~for those of us that live in the middle of no place anyone has heard of, could you post the photo once you get it? Thanks...Christine

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can we see the outtakes??????

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and now could we please hear about the day they fixed the hole in your head? cathy

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn...this is way over the top funny. I was with you during the whole ordeal. I have had to endure many professional photo shoots....not for me, but for all the little people I have taken care of who have parents with tons of money. At least they did not put you in a position where you had added props. Props were my end of the deal....from sailboats to coconuts. ARE going to tell us how to get a copy of this magazine...yes?

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Quinn, I can certainly relate to the fear of photos of oneself, but the obstacle course you ran through for one photo...I don't know. Don't you get approval of the photo before it goes to print??? And...I would love a blow by blow of the hole-in-the-head surgery day too.


3:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a newbie to your blog. I just read it in its entireity and I havent laughed so hard in a long time. The world needs more Quinn Cummings in it!

10:58 AM  
Blogger Melodee said...

But how will we get to see if we don't live in LA? You can make money shipping out spare copies to your fans! Great idea, huh?

Also, I'm having my first ever photo shoot on Saturday and now I think perhaps it ought to be my last. I'm a-twitter with nerves, I tell you!

5:45 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Bring pants.


9:22 PM  

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